River Blindness on the Run

Colombia has eliminated onchocerciasis (“river blindness”), making it the first country suffer-ing from river blindness in the Americas to do so. Mexico, Guatemala and Ecuador also has broken the cycle of transmission of river blindness. Officials attribute the Latin America to a public-private partnership that includes LCIF/Lions, The Carter Center and national health ministries. SightFirst provides funding and Lions help distribute medication and educate communities. Starting in 2012, about 80 percent of the half-million people in the Americas previously at risk will no longer be in need of treat-ment for river blindness. The two remaining affected coun-tries in the Americas, Brazil and Venezuela, will continue treatments in hopes of also interrupting transmission by the end of next year.

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